Luncheon to Honor Tuna Canyon Detainees, Descendants

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Unsung heroes will also be recognized on Oct. 8.

“Only the Oaks Remain” includes a virtual tour of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station.

The Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition will hold a fundraising luncheon on Sunday, Oct. 8, to help support efforts to preserve and share the stories of Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants, Japanese Peruvians, and others unjustly detained after the outbreak of World War II.

Featured during the luncheon will be an original performance created especially for the event by the Grateful Crane Ensemble based on the diaries, letters, and poems of the Tuna Canyon prisoners detained between December 1941 and October 1943.

Tak Hamano

Also honored will be unsung heroes of the Japanese American community, among them Tak Hamano of Umeya Rice Cake Company, who passed away earlier this year.

Ann Burroughs, CEO of the Japanese American National Museum, will be a luncheon speaker. Helen Ota will serve as emcee.

Monies raised will help provide the matching funds required under the terms of the National Park Service’s Japanese American Confinement Sites grant recently awarded to the coalition. Help is also sought to cover the cost of transporting the widely acclaimed “Only the Oaks Remain” exhibit to the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, a Japanese American history museum in Portland.

To date, the exhibit has been shown at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, San Diego History Museum, JANM, Pasadena Playhouse, Manzanar National Historic Site, and Bolton Hall Museum. In addition to Oregon, the exhibit will travel to the Santa Barbara History Museum and CSU at Fullerton.

Following the June 25, 2013 City of Los Angeles designation of the Tuna Canyon Detention Center site as a historic-cultural monument, the collection and preservation of individual stories, photographs, and other memorabilia began. The Legacy Project was subsequently established with June Aochi Berk as chief project director. To date, 14 oral histories have been captured.

“Only the Oaks Remain” includes a list of every detainee at Tuna Canyon, enabling family members to find loved ones’ names. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

“For almost 75 years, the names (of Tuna Canyon detainees) were only honored in the hearts and memories of detainee family members,” Dr. Russell Endo, grandson of detainee Heigoro Endo, points out. “Behind each one is a tragic personal and family saga of unwarranted and unnecessary injustice and suffering. Now these individuals have been brought out of the darkness into sunlight, and we can all begin to hear their stories and the lessons they contain.”

The luncheon will be held at Quiet Cannon, 901 Via San Clemente, Montebello. Tickets are $75 per person. For reservations and sponsorship opportunities, email [email protected] or go to www.tunacanyon.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/sponsorship-opportunities-legacy-grant.pdf.

Tuna Canyon Site Spared

(Photo by Marc Stirdivant)

On Labor Day weekend, the La Tuna Fire started off the 210 Freeway, rising in ferocity by nightfall and engulfing more than 7,000 acres. It was located in the Sunland Tujunga neighborhood, close to the former site of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station. Smoke could be seen from the site. Many inquiries came to the TCDS Coalition’s website and Facebook page from people who were concerned about the oak and sycamore trees that were threatened by the fire. Although the grass was bone-dry, there was no damage to the historic cultural monument. During World War II, Tuna Canyon — formerly a Civilian Conservation Corps camp — held 2,000 Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants and Japanese taken from Peru. The camp was razed after the war, but trees from that era remain.

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